By Jerry Zezima

If it weren’t for my wife, I would have starved to death long ago. That’s because Sue not only is an excellent cook who can make even vegetables appetizing (except squash, which should be squashed), but she does the food shopping.

But recently Sue was under the weather, so for only the second time in 45 years of marriage, I had to do the weekly shopping myself.

As we stood in the kitchen, Sue went over the list of items she wanted me to buy. It looked like the battle plans for the invasion of Normandy.

Not only that, but she sent me to two supermarkets.

At first Sue said, “You can’t handle more than one store.”

She sounded like Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Man.” And I wasn’t even one good man.

Then she reconsidered and said I could save money by going to the first supermarket for fruits and veggies, which were on sale, and to the second for other things, including milk, bread, lettuce, yogurt, frozen fruit bars, ice cream sandwiches, baked beans, crackers and tomato juice.

Sue handed me the list, to which I added beer. She also gave me a circular, which was actually rectangular, with coupons that could be used in the second store.

“Do you have your assignment?” Sue asked.

“I think so,” I answered tentatively.

“Good,” she said. “Feel free to call if you need me.”

As soon as I entered the first store, I was almost rear-ended by a speeding cart driven by a woman who blurted, “Sorry!”

She probably wasn’t even insured.

I checked everything on the list — two red peppers, two green peppers, four peaches, four plums, bananas, scallions and a quarter of a watermelon — and got them all except the scallions, which I couldn’t find.

“They’re on the other side,” a nice lady told me when I confessed to being lost.

“Men aren’t supposed to ask for directions,” I said.

“Your secret is safe with me,” she said with a smile.

I had trouble opening the end of a clear plastic bag, so I wet my fingers and, muttering under my breath so fellow shoppers wouldn’t call security, finally managed to pry it apart and stuff the scallions in.

Then I wheeled the whole kit and caboodle to the checkout, where I told the cashier that I was flying solo because my wife was sick.

“Don’t worry,” he said helpfully. “I’ll bag the groceries for you.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I have to go to another store now.”

“Good luck!” the cashier said.

The second supermarket was across the street, which is why Sue figured I could handle it.

I immediately encountered a fellow husband, about my age, pushing a cart.

“Are you shopping by yourself?” I inquired.

“Yes,” he answered.

“Do you have a list?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “I have to get only two items.”

“Your wife trusts you?” I wondered.

“She has to,” the guy replied. “She’s outside in the car waiting for me.”

After asking another woman for directions — I couldn’t find the lettuce, which was in a case directly in front of me — I made the executive decision to get the frozen fruit bars and ice cream sandwiches last so they wouldn’t melt before I was done.

It was a wise move considering that my excursion lasted about as long as the Super Bowl, commercials and halftime show included.

At the checkout, the shopper in front of me apologized for holding up the works while bagging and paying for her groceries.

“That’s OK,” I said. “I’m wondering if I got everything my wife wanted me to buy.”

“Did she make a list and you’re checking it twice?” the woman asked.

“I’ve checked it about 27 times,” I said.

When I got home, Sue said, “I was about to send out a search party. What took you so long?”

“I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have to call you every three minutes,” I said.

“You didn’t even call me once,” she said with a smile. “And you got everything. You did a good job. I’m very proud of you.”

“Jack Nicholson would be, too,” I said. “The truth is, I handled two stores.”

“And you bought yourself some beer,” Sue said. “After all that, you deserve it.”

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

Originally Published on

Jerry Zezima Humorist, Author, Public Nuisance

I write a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to papers nationwide and abroad. If you have ever wondered why the newspaper industry is in trouble, it would be because of me.

As a chilling example of just how low journalistic standards have sunk, I have won many awards, including seven for humorous writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

I have a strong social media presence, I have made many radio and television appearances, I have done several YouTube videos, I am a popular public speaker, and I am writing a sitcom. If you think TV is bad now, wait until my show gets on the air.

I live on Long Island, N.Y., with my wife, Sue. We have two daughters, five grandchildren and many creditors. I have no interesting hobbies.

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